Dayton Wants to Spend $93 Million on Mental Health Hospital

State government put $56 million into the project back in 2014, now Dayton wants to finish the job.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Gov. Mark Dayton is strongly advocating for over $70 million in construction bonding for the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, Minnesota, as well as $23 million for additional staff.

The Pioneer Press reports that Dayton is calling for the renovation project to be finished after the state put $56 million towards the hospital in 2014.

The Minnesota Security Hospital currently houses 369 of the state’s most dangerous mentally ill patients. According to the Pioneer Press, state officials have recorded 370 assaults by patients that required medical attention for staff members. In addition, 51 patient-on-patient assaults required medical attention just last year.

Part of the need for the renovations revolves around the security and safety of the employees. There are numerous blind spots in the hospital’s complex which leave staff members more exposed than they otherwise would be

“We do have radios to contact other staff, but in a crisis, seconds matter,” Tim Headlee, a security counselor with the hospital, told the Pioneer Press. “By the time I reach for this (radio), call for help, describe where I am and what’s happening, it could be too late. It’s just not safe.”

The 2014 renovations were completed in January. They include 36 beds for the more severely afflicted patients, and 48 beds in less restrictive areas for patients working to transition out of the hospital. A new campus center with a medical clinic, pharmacy, laboratory, vocational training space, library, bank, a canteen, and barber and beauty shops were also constructed. Patients have on-campus jobs where they earn money they can spend at those shops, in an attempt to aid their transition to the outside world.

“The security hospital is not something that’s politically popular for the Legislature or for me,” Dayton told the Pioneer Press, “But it’s a necessity, and it’s just going to get worse and more expensive the longer it’s delayed.”

The governor’s $1.5 billion bonding proposal includes $70.26 million for the hospital. The Senate thus far has proposed $58 million for the hospital as part of their $973 million total bonding proposal. The only thing this leaves out of the renovation is a new 48-bed transitional housing unit that would cost $12 million.

The second phase of the project would take two years to complete if funded.

Anders Koskinen